The 10 hidden highlights from Ted Wells' report on deflate-gate …
By now you are well aware of the term “more probable than not”1 and that in the case of deflate-gate, two New England Patriots2 employees you’ve never heard of were probably at fault and quarterback Tom Brady3 knew about it … more probable than not, of course.
That’s OK, we did, and we found 10 not-so-obvious items that are worth noting:
1. Who is John Jastremski? Who is Jim McNally?
Odds are you’d never heard of either man.
Now both will be synonymous with deflate-gate. Jastremski’s name appears in the report 543 times. McNally’s appears 498.
They are the only two explicitly implicated in the report. Brady, Wells’ report believes, was “generally aware of the inappropriate activities.” They’re the only ones who you’d say the Wells report fingered as “guilty,” if you believe in saying they’re guilty of anything based on circumstantial evidence.
First, Jastremski. He’s a 35-year-old Patriots equipment assistant.
He has been with the Patriots in either a part-time or full-time role for the entirety of Brady’s Patriots career, which dates back to 2000. Three years ago he took over the duty of preparing game balls for Brady. He’s referred to in the report as the “game ball maker.” Brady described Jastremski as a friend and they interact regularly during the season, though he has never socialized with the quarterback outside of work.
His preparation of the game balls is extensive, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
McNally is the “officials locker room attendant” for the Patriots. He is 48 years old and good friends with Jastremski (they text a lot). According to the report, Jastremski generally refers to McNally by his nickname, Bird, and McNally at times refers to Jastremski as JJ or Johnny.
McNally was described as officials as “5professional, attentive, and cordial.” He also keeps the bench area clean. He’s a self-described liaison for officials, “bringing items like towels, toiletries, time sheets and game programs to the locker room prior to the game.” So yeah, there are a lot of folks involved in NFL game days in ways nobody ever stops to think about.
Brady claims that prior to the fallout from the deflated balls during the AFC championship game, he didn’t know McNally’s name. Brady also said he didn’t know what McNally did in regards to his responsibility to get the game balls to the officials for pre-game inspection and then get them to the field.
Wells’ report doesn’t believe that Brady didn’t know who McNally was. It was McNally who stopped in the bathroom on the way to the field with the game balls. Speaking of which …
McNally’s bathroom stop is key to the whole thing
A lot is made of why McNally stopped in a bathroom on the way to the field and what he did there. Even what was in the bathroom is debated.
“He said that on the day of the AFC Championship Game, he entered the bathroom, dropped the ball bags to his left, and used the urinal to his right,” the report said. “That bathroom, however, does not contain a urinal. Upon further questioning, McNally claimed that he did not pay attention to what type of fixture he used.”
Whatever facilities were in the bathroom, he locked the door and was in there for about a minute and 40 seconds.
The report said that would be enough time to deflate the game balls. McNally could have used the bathroom in the officials locker room, which referee Walt Anderson said wouldn’t have been unusual, but he said he didn’t want to disturb the officials. The word “bathroom” comes up 47 times in the report.
The Colts informed the NFL the day before the game about deflate-gate
Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (52) intercepts a pass in the AFC championship game (AP)
There were varying reports with deflate-gate (one said the attendant in question was “elderly,”7 which must have made the 48-year-old McNally feel good) and the Colts’ role before and during the game comes into better focus with the report. Safety Mike Adams intercepted Brady twice during a regular-season game in Indianapolis. Adams gave the ball to a Colts equipment assistant, and the “intercepted footballs appeared to be coated in a tacky substance and seemed spongy or soft when squeezed.”
The day before the AFC title game, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson sent an email to two senior members of the NFL’s football operations department raising concerns about the air pressure of the Patriots’ game balls.
He attached a message from Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan.
“As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don t get an illegal advantage,” Sullivan said, according to Wells’ report.
The hullabaloo during the game started when Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Brady pass and he gave the ball to the equipment staff on the sideline. They measured the ball there and it was under the minimum 12.5 psi allowed by the rules.
It’s hard to believe that the Patriots did nothing wrong when the Colts said before the AFC championship game that it’s “well known around the league” the Patriots’ game balls were deflated, then that was the case when they were checked at halftime of that game the next day.
4. The officials freaked out when the Patriots’ balls went missing before the game
McNally took the bag of balls and left for the field without telling anyone.
Many everyone interviewed for the report said this is not typical protocol, and he needs the officials’ permission to go. The Patriots had two security personnel state they had seen McNally walking out with the balls by himself at about half the games. Either way, there was a panic when the balls were gone.
The report said: “When it was suggested that McNally had or may have taken them to the field, Anderson responded that he s not supposed to do that.
Anderson also stated that we have to find the footballs. Alternate game official Clete Blakeman recalls that although Anderson is usually calm and composed leading up to a game, Anderson was visibly concerned and uncharacteristically used an expletive when the game balls could not be located. The other officials were similarly surprised and concerned.”
NFL security official Richard Farley, who is assigned to New England, was dispatched back to the officials locker room to get the back-up balls because minutes before kickoff the main balls still hadn’t been located.
Farley said he couldn’t remember being in that situation before. McNally and the balls were found before kickoff.
In an interview with NFL security the night after the AFC title game, McNally said he “decided to walk the balls out to the field, and was not certain why he chose to go out to the field at this time or without an escort.
5. The Patriots equipment crew wasn’t exactly deferential to Brady in private
Ahhh, the text messages.
A big part of the report. In some of them, McNally and Jastremski complain about Brady like any co-workers complain about a fellow co-worker. This pain-in-the-butt co-worker happens to be a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
McNally jokes about seemingly getting back at Brady for complaining about the balls by threatening to make them “watermelons” and “balloons” or rugby balls often with some f-words, some directed at Brady.
Honestly, it’s funny to see the conversations be so normal about him, it’s like any other workplace really.
Jastremski: I have a big needle for u this week
McNally: Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks….or its a rugby sunday
This one might be the winner:
McNally: The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating
6. Jastremski might have helped give the Pro Football Hall of Fame a wrong milestone ball
Tom Brady (AP)
In a report like this, or a long trial or whatever, random tidbits come about that are not really useful but amusing. In Wells’ report, one of those is that Jastremski kept the ball that Brady used to reach the 50,000-yard career milestone to himself and had Brady sign it.
He bragged about that in messages to his mother, showing off the ball in a photo. That’s not that big of a deal, except that the Pro Football Hall of Fame put a ball on display saying that was the 50,000-yard ball. 8
“They have an article about the 50,000 yard ball…if they only knew :)” Jastremski said in a text, according to the report.
Jastremski later changed his story and told investigators that the ball he had autographed wasn’t really the milestone ball. It has nothing to do with the case, but it’s a funny inside story.
McNally was already on the NFL’s radar from a 2004 incident
There was an incident from a game on Oct.
25, 2004 that included Patriots ball boys relaying balls that were supposedly approved into the game, but they were actually non-approved practice balls. For Patriots haters who think they’ve been cheating all through their dynasty, this will be some more fuel.
McNally was mistakenly referred to as “Jim McNulty” in a memorandum from that incident.
“Mr McNulty advised that he had no idea how Patriot s practice balls could have gotten into the hands of the game day sideline ball boys and or how they could have been handed to the referee by a ball boy for insertion into the game,” Wells’ report said, citing a memorandum.
McNally said it was an honest mistake involving the ball boys. The NFL said the Patriots didn’t provide a reasonable explanation and “warned that disciplinary action against the Patriots could result if a similar incident occurred in the future because it could be interpreted as a competitive violation.”
Jastremski’s game-ball preparation is intense
Jastremski said it takes about an hour to break in a new football, and 20 to 35 footballs are broken in for every game. That’s a ton of time breaking in footballs.
“Among other things, to prepare the game balls, Jastremski uses a wet towel to remove the preservative coating or film that Wilson uses to treat the surface of NFL footballs, brushes the balls using brushes supplied by Wilson, treats the balls with dirt, and will generally apply a leather conditioner to the balls,” the report said.
The report said multiple witnesses commented on how extensive the preparation process was. We don’t know all of the preparation techniques either.
Here is perhaps the oddest line in the report, from a footnote: “At the request of the Patriots, this Report will not describe details of the ball preparation process that have not been publicly discussed by the Patriots. None of the preparation methods used by the Patriots had an impact on the relevant pressure measurements for the reasons described below and in Appendix 1.”
If that’s not a small peek into the paranoid workings of the Patriots, nothing is.
9. Investigators weren’t totally happy with Patriots’ cooperation level
A couple times in the report, there’s a tense tone regarding the Patriots’ lack of complete cooperation.
The team cooperated on many levels, but the investigators were clearly not happy that Patriots counsel refused to make McNally available for a follow-up interview and that Patriots’ counsel refused to even inform McNally of the request. Patriots’ counsel told the NFL “that McNally lived more than an hour away and already had missed work at his full-time job to attend earlier interviews.”
“We believe the failure by the Patriots and its counsel to produce McNally for the requested follow-up interview violated the club s obligations to cooperate with the investigation under the Policy on Integrity of the Game & Enforcement of League Rules and was inconsistent with public statements made by the Patriots pledging full cooperation with the investigation,” the report said.
And even though Brady answered questions, he refused to make text messages and emails available, even though they would be limited to the scope of the investigation.
10. The Brady-Belichick meeting in January is more interesting knowing the report said Brady probably knew what was going on
This detail will be lost on most everyone who likes piling on Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but the report believes Belichick didn’t know of any of the shenanigans happening with the ball.
The report said it thinks Brady at least had a knowledge that something was going on. it cites as reasonable evidence that Brady and Jastremski all of a sudden had multiple long phone calls when news of deflate-gate started breaking (six calls over three days that totaled nearly an hour) after not speaking on the phone for at least six months before that.
Whether you think Brady is innocent and didn’t know that the equipment guys were up to no good or Brady is the reason all this went down (or, if you’re like Patriots owner Robert Kraft and think the entire report is hogwash9), the passage about his meeting with Belichick as the controversy was brewing is interesting to read now:
“On Thursday, January 22, Belichick reportedly discussed these issues for the first time with Brady, shortly before a team meeting. Belichick asked Brady directly whether he had any knowledge about any of the issues raised by the press since the AFC Championship Game.
According to Belichick, Brady said absolutely not. Belichick stated that he then asked if Brady or anyone Brady knew had tampered with or in any way altered the footballs. Brady again denied any knowledge or involvement.
Belichick recalled that Brady also explained that once he 100 inspects and approves game balls, those balls are exactly as he likes them and that he would not want anyone to do anything to them after that point. Belichick believed Brady. Belichick and Brady attended the team meeting, and Belichick told the team that there was not one shred of truth to the deflation allegations.
When given the floor, Brady repeated what he had told Belichick about wanting game balls to be exactly as he approved them.”
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- ^ the term “more probable than not” (sports.yahoo.com)
- ^ New England Patriots (sports.yahoo.com)
- ^ Tom Brady (sports.yahoo.com)
- ^ runs 243 pages (nfllabor.files.wordpress.com)
- ^ they text a lot (sports.yahoo.com)
- ^ Anderson (sports.yahoo.com)
- ^ attendant in question was “elderly,” (www.nfl.com)
- ^ the Pro Football Hall of Fame put a ball on display saying that was the 50,000-yard ball. (www.patriots.com)
- ^ think the entire report is hogwash (www.patriots.com)
- ^ Frank Schwab (sports.yahoo.com)
- ^ Shutdown Corner (www.shutdowncorner.com)
- ^ firstname.lastname@example.org (sports.yahoo.com)